Mike Munchak

Cardinals Rumors: Munchak, Wilks, Caldwell

The Cardinals are the only NFL team looking for a new head coach that either hasn’t already made a hire or does not have a clear-cut front-runner for the position. Indeed, many coaches around the league have “trepidation” about the Arizona gig, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter link). Among the factors concerning potential contenders are the Cardinals’ lack of a solution at quarterback and the increasingly difficult path to contention in the NFC West. Additionally, Arizona prefers to keep the majority of its defensive staff in place, meaning a new head coach might not get the opportunity to hire his own coaches, as La Canfora writes in a separate piece. The immediate outlook for the Cardinals isn’t very positive, meaning ownership could make “sweeping changes” again in just a few years.

Here’s more on the Cardinals:

  • Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak withdrew from Arizona’s coaching hunt last week, but La Canfora reports (via Twitter) that Munchak would have been the favorite for the club’s head coaching position had he not pulled out. Munchak cited family concerns when explaining why he decided to remain in Pittsburgh, but there was at least some thought the Steelers could promote the NFL Hall of Famer to offensive coordinator after ex-OC Todd Haley‘s contract expired. Instead, Pittsburgh tabbed incumbent quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner for the role, meaning Munchak will return for a fifth season as the team’s OL coach. Munchak, 57, has previous head coaching experience, as he posted a 22-26 record with the Titans from 2011-13.
  • Among the candidates who are still in contention for the Arizona job, Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks has reportedly made a “very strong impression” on Cardinals ownership during the search process, tweets La Canfora. Wilks, Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores, Falcons special teams coach Keith Armstrong, and Eagles quarterbacks John DeFilippo all have or will receive second interviews. Incumbent DC James Bettcher, meanwhile, won’t require a second meeting given his familiarity with Arizona’s decision-makers.
  • While the Cardinals’ search is still ongoing, candidates have already started to formulate hypothetical coaching staffs. Flores for instance, would likely install former Lions head coach Jim Caldwell as offensive coordinator were he to land the Arizona gig, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Bettcher, meanwhile, is eyeing former Broncos play-caller Mike McCoy for OC and ex-Colts head coach Chuck Pagano for DC, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).
  • We touched on Haley earlier, and the former Pittsburgh offensive coordinator says he would have interest in taking over OC duties for the Cardinals, per Mike Jurecki of 98.7 FM (Twitter link). Haley, of course, has worked in Arizona before as the club’s offensive coordinator from 2007-08. Also a potential candidate for vacant OC jobs in both New York and Cleveland, Haley will likely need to wait until the Cardinals settle on their next head coach before taking any serious looks at a reunion in the desert.

Mike Munchak Declines Second Interview With Cardinals

Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak has turned down the chance for a second head coaching interview with the Cardinals, a source tells Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com (Twitter link). With Munchak out of consideration for the job, Patriots linebacker coach Brian Flores is now a leading candidate for the job. Mike Munchak (vertical)

It’s not immediately clear why Munchak has removed himself from consideration for the Cardinals job. As PFR’s Head Coaching Search Tracker shows, Munchak is also a candidate for the Giants’ head coaching vacancy, but that job likely belongs to Pat Shurmur. With rumors swirling about Todd Haley‘s departure, one has to wonder if Munchak is in the mix to become the Steelers’ new offensive coordinator.

Munchak went just 22-26 in three seasons as the Titans’ head coach, but was said to have made a great impression on Cardinals brass. The Cardinals will now dig deeper into Flores – despite his lack of coordinator experience – as well as Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo.

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Cardinals To Interview Munchak, DeFilippo Again

The Cardinals are bringing Mike Munchak back in for a second interview, according to Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link). The team is also expected to speak with Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo for a second time once Philly’s season is over, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Mike Munchak (vertical)

Munchak, the Steelers offensive line coach, first interviewed with Arizona on January 7. He went just 22-26 in three seasons as the Titans’ head coach, but he impressed in his initial meeting with the Cardinals and also made a strong impression on the Giants before they landed on Pat Shurmur as their likely hire.

DeFilippo helped mold Carson Wentz into one of the league’s top young quarterbacks and, under his guidance, the team has stayed afloat with Nick Foles under center. With uncertainty at QB, the Cardinals are intrigued by DeFilippo’s ability to groom an up-and-coming star – and his ability to work with secondary options. Although defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz holds a higher title and is also interviewing for HC jobs, it appears that DeFilippo is a stronger candidate around the league.

As shown on PFR’s Head Coaching Search Tracker, nine candidates have interviewed for the Cardinals job. With Shurmur and Patricia likely spoken for, there are seven coaches still in play, but Munchak and DeFilippo appear to be the frontrunners.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers Notes: Brown, Bell, Haley

Antonio Brown is likely to play in the Steelers’ divisional round contest against Jacksonville this afternoon, as ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter reports, although Schefter adds that Brown’s injured calf is not close to being fully healed. The league’s top wideout, who is one month removed from the partially torn left calf muscle that forced him to miss the final two games of the regular season, will go through pregame warmups to test the calf, but as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets, every expectation is that Brown will play and will play regularly. Brown was forced to miss Friday’s practice because of an illness, but he was a full participant in practices on Wednesday and Thursday, and Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweets that Brown’s illness will not impact his playing status [Twitter update: Brown is active, per Schefter].

Now for several more notes on the AFC North champions:

  • His idle threats notwithstanding, no one expects Le’Veon Bell to retire or sit out the 2018 season if he is hit with the franchise tag for the second straight year, least of all the Steelers themselves. As Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (video link), the Steelers are indeed expected to put the franchise tag on Bell, which has been a foregone conclusion for some time now. As Rapoport observes, Pittsburgh has historically refused to cede to the demands of players who threaten to sit out, and he does not expect the club to change it standard operating procedure for Bell. If Bell does play 2018 under the tag, he will have earned roughly $26.5MM over the 2017-18 seasons, while he would have earned $30MM if he signed the long-term deal the Steelers offered him last year. Nonetheless, we will still need to wait to see what the future holds before we can say for sure whether that was a wise financial move for Bell.
  • We heard at the end of December that the relationship between Ben Roethlisberger and OC Todd Haley is strained, but Rapoport goes one step further, saying that the relationship “is in as bad of a place as it’s been in years.” Nonetheless, Roethlisberger has thrived under Haley’s leadership, which puts the Steelers in something of a bind. Haley’s contract expires at the end of the season, so Pittsburgh will need to decide whether it wants to bring him back and hope he and Big Ben can put aside their personal differences since the on-field product has been so good, or whether it wants to move on. Of course, the decision could be made for the Steelers if Roethlisberger makes good on his threat to retire, or if offensive line coach Mike Munchak gets a head coaching job elsewhere and brings Haley with him, which Rapoport says is a distinct possibility.
  • Speaking of Munchak, who has already interviewed with the Cardinals for their head coaching job, we heard this morning that he could be a dark horse candidate for the Giants’ HC vacancy.

Latest On Giants’, Cardinals’ HC Searches

As of Friday evening, the Giants were reportedly down to three finalists in their search for a new head coach: Josh McDaniels, Matt Patricia, and Pat Shurmur. This morning, however, we learned that McDaniels is expected to become the Colts’ next head coach, and Patricia is expected to take the Lions’ top job. Logic would therefore dictate that the Giants will do everything in their power to bring Shurmur on board as soon as possible (which could be tonight if Shumur’s Vikings fall to the Saints).

Pat Shurmur (vertical)

Indeed, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that, if Minnesota loses tonight, New York could move quickly on Shurmur, whose potential staff is already in place. But Big Blue could have competition, as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets that the Cardinals will also pounce on Shurmur if he becomes available this evening.

As La Canfora notes, Giants brass follows the letter of the law when it comes to rules concerning the hiring of head coaches whose teams are still in the playoffs, which makes it difficult to pin down New York’s true top choice (Twitter links). After all, Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks is still very much in the running for the Giants’ job, per Rapoport, who adds (via Twitter) that Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin called the Giants last week to make a case for Wilks, who would be the first minority head coach in franchise history.

If they do not land Shurmur, the Giants could also circle back to Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who at one point was rumored to be the team’s top option. Paul Schwartz of the New York Post names Steelers’ offensive line coach Mike Munchak — who has also interviewed with the Cardinals — as a potential dark horse candidate for the Giants’ job.

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Coaching Rumors: Cardinals, Bears, Bengals

After the Titans’ exciting victory over the Chiefs, one has to imagine that coach Mike Mularkey is off the hot seat. Still, there are a number of head coaching vacancies left around the league.

Here are the latest coaching rumors from around the NFL:

  • Mike Munchak‘s interview with the Cardinals will take place on Sunday, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (on Twitter).
  • If hired by the BearsJohn DeFilippo would be be willing to retain Vic Fangio as defensive coordinator, Peter Schrager of NFL Network (on Twitter) hears. The Bears want Fangio back, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (on Twitter) adds, but other teams and head coaching candidates are interested in bringing him on staff.
  • Linebackers coach Jim Haslett will remain on the Bengals‘ defensive staff, Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer (on Twitter). However, Jacob Burney (defensive line) will not be returning, Alex Marvez of The Sporting News tweets.

Coach Rumors: Raiders, Olson, Cards, Fins

If the Raiders (as expected) hire ESPN commentator Jon Gruden as their next head coach, they are expected to lure Rams quarterbacks coach Greg Olson to be their new offensive coordinator, tweets Alex Marvez of the Sporting News. Marvez reported yesterday that Olson might be a candidate to join Gruden in Oakland, but now it sounds as though an Olson addition will be a foregone conclusion. Olson, 54, has served as the Raiders’ offensive play-caller before (2013-14), and has also been an OC at several other stops, including Detroit, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, and Jacksonville, but Gruden is expected to run his own offense once he arrives in Oakland.

Here’s more on the 2018 hiring cycle:

  • The Raiders‘ apparent decision to bring in Gruden could have wide-ranging implications for the club’s coaching staff and front office, but general manager Reggie McKenzie is likely to stay in place for at least more season even if Gruden is hired, a source tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. McKenzie, who is signed through the 2021 draft, may be in danger of losing final authority on personnel decisions, but Gruden is unlikely to take on a GM-type role in Oakland, per Florio. However, if the Raiders do hand over free agent and draft control to Gruden, McKenzie might be able to leave on his own, citing a breach of contract.
  • Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak will indeed interview for the vacant Cardinals head coaching position, and the meeting will take place this weekend, reports Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link). Arizona asked for permission to interview Munchak earlier this week, and that request has apparently been granted. Munchak has been a head coach before, as he posted a 22-26 record in three seasons with the Titans. He’s the eighth candidate to be linked to the Cardinals’ search.
  • Former Broncos assistant head coach/running backs Eric Studesville will have to wait for his interview with the Giants, as weather-related concerns have forced the summit to next week, per Dan Duggan of NJ.com (Twitter link). Studesville, who had been employed in Denver since 2010, was fired earlier this week. While he’s never been a head coach, the 50-year-old Studesville did serve as an interim HC during the 2010 campaign.
  • The Dolphins have hired a familiar face as their new offensive line coach, as they’ve agreed to terms with Jeremiah Washburn to take over the job, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. Washburn served as an assistant OL coach in Miami in 2016 before accepting a promotion in Chicago. He’ll now replace staffer Dave DeGuglielmo, who was hired to replace Chris Foerster after the latter was caught using drugs on video.
  • Gruden and the Raiders are expected to target Cowboys running backs coach Gary Brown for the same role in Oakland, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Brown, 48, is now a coaching free agent, as his contract in Dallas has expired. The Cowboys made several coaching changes earlier this week, but there’s no word as to whether they’ll pursue Brown again.

Cardinals Add Mike Munchak To Interview List

Following the retirement of head coach Bruce Arians, the Cardinals went to work on filling out a list candidates to interview for the vacancy in the coming days. The latest name to make the cut is Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (Twitter link). Mike Munchak (vertical)

Munchak, a Hall of Fame guard who played 12 season with the Houston Oilers, served as head coach of the Titans from 2011-13 and managed a 22-26 record. After being dismissed from the team, Munchak joined the Steelers as the team’s offensive line coach and has been there ever since.

Under Munchak’s direction, Pittsburgh has paved the way for three 1,000-yard campaigns by Le’Veon Bell in four seasons. It also permitted the sixth-fewest sacks in 2017.

The Hall of Famer joins a list of candidates that includes Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo and Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.